A prospective study was made of all patients with normal CSF counts and positive cultures for Neisseria meningitidis diagnosed in "El Vallés" County, Barcelona between January 1987 and December 1990. Meningococcal meningitis was documented in 82 patients, eight of whom (seven children, five boys and two girls with a mean age of 5.6 +/- 3.3 years, and a 69-year-old male patient) had no apparent CSF abnormalities in the initial lumbar puncture. At the time of admission all patients had fever (mean 39.1 degrees C) of 10.8 +/- 5.6 hour duration and petechial rash which had been present for a mean of 3.6 +/- 3.3 hours. Signs of meningeal irritation were not found. A 4-month-old infant with symptoms of circulatory collapse, intracranial hypertension and impairment of consciousness subsequently died of septicemia in 48 hours. Group B N. meningitidis was isolated in six cases (reduced penicillin-susceptibility in two cases) and group C N. meningitidis in the remaining two (reduced penicillin-susceptibility in one case). Patients without pleocytosis did not differ in a statistically significant fashion from the patients with high pleocytosis in the duration of temperature, and petechial rash, leukopenia, positive blood culture and fatal outcome.